Environmental permitting is a key instrument for regulating a wide spectrum of industry’s environmental impacts, facilitating their compliance with environmental requirements and promoting technological innovation. Since the early 1970s, most OECD countries have introduced integrated permitting systems in order to protect the environment as a whole using best available industrial production methods.
Many transition and emerging economies explore possibilities of progressive move toward an integrated permitting system that would replace the current cumbersome and ineffective multitude of permits and licenses for air emissions, water abstraction, wastewater discharges, waste generation, storage and disposal, and other environmental impacts. In particular, EECCA countries plan to use the approach of the European Union’s Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive (96/61/EC) as the principal benchmark. However, the EECCA governments will need to devise permitting systems that best suit their own legal and institutional arrangements, their own social, economic and environmental priorities.
Building on the earlier “Review of Environmental Permitting Systems in EECCA” (OECD, 2003), the Secretariat of the EECCA Regulatory Environmental Programme Implementation Network (REPIN) developed and published in May 2005 the comprehensive Integrated Environmental Permitting Guidelines for EECCA Countries (available in English and Russian). The Guidelines are a result of a two-year effort and were prepared in close collaboration with EECCA country experts. They include strategic and procedural guidance for EECCA environmental authorities in designing an effective and transparent integrated permitting system for large industry while simplifying the permitting regime for smaller polluters.
Using the Guidelines as a methodological basis, three country-specific programmatic studies on the design of a transition to integrated permitting have been conducted over 2004-2006: in Ukraine (available in English and Russian), the Kyrgyz Republic (English and Russian) and Georgia (English and Russian). Each study will contain recommendations for the scope of application of the new system, the pertinent legal and institutional changes, and the transition schedule.
The Guidelines also lie at the core of the training course on integrated environmental permitting delivered in each of the EECCA sub-regions: Eastern Europe (Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine) in May 2005, Central Asia in September 2005, and the Caucasus region in April, 2006.
In response to the interest expressed by EECCA officials and experts in having a concise policy document that would convey the approach to reforming the existing environmental permitting systems, the Secretariat has drafted the Principles of Effective Environmental Permitting Systems. This document would be used in each country to generate high-level political and institutional support for a permitting reform and facilitate international cooperation between EECCA and OECD countries on environmental permitting. It is expected to be submitted for endorsement at the Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Belgrade in 2007.